Workers At Warehouse Used For Wal-Mart Goods Share $4.68M in Class Action Settlement

MIRA LOMA, Calif. —Some 568 workers who toiled in a Mira Loma, Calif., warehouse for Schneider Logistics, a subcontractor that handles Wal-Mart’s goods, will share in a $4.68 million class action settlement of their claims for unpaid wages for meal times, break times and denied overtime, a federal judge ruled on Dec. 4.

U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder decided that Schneider, the warehouse owner, will pay the workers $3.03 million.  The rest goes to attorney’s fees and to reimburse California for its probes into the wage-and-hour violations at the warehouse.

“Over five years workers were shorted overtime and regular pay, they were denied rest breaks and meal breaks as required by the law and the company failed to keep accurate records or to provide itemized wage statements,” said Warehouse Workers United, the union-supported organization of warehouse workers nationwide that handled the case.  The settlement also orders Schneider to obey the federal law.

Schneider even forced workers to sign waivers promising not to complain about the shorted overtime meal and rest breaks.  The settlement kills the waivers, too.

The Schneider case is the latest win for warehouse workers in their multi-state campaign to force Wal-Mart and its contractors to obey labor law, and provide decent wages and working conditions.  The Wal-Mart workers’ drive in turn is part of a larger nationwide effort by low-wage workers to achieve living wages and the right to organize.

Wal-Mart was not a part of this case, even though Schneider’s warehouse complex exclusively handles goods for the retail mega-monster, known for its low wages, lousy benefits and rampant labor law-breaking.  Wal-Mart itself has had to repay thousands of store workers for unpaid overtime and break time in many states.

And the retailer is not out of the woods yet with its warehouse workers.  A federal judge handling a pending case against Wal-Mart involving another California complex ruled in Jan. 2013 Wal-Mart is a joint employer there and can be liable for violations.

“The brave workers who came forward to expose a deep pattern of abuse and fraud in Wal-Mart’s contracted facility risked their jobs and their livelihoods, but today they are vindicated,” said Warehouse Workers United Director Guadelupe Palma.

“Like courageous warehouse workers across Southern California’s Inland Empire …plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit helped end a years-long practice by Schneider, one of Wal-Mart’s largest contractors, of shorting pay checks of hundreds of workers,” Palma said.  Schneider also must change its employment practices, starting with “a normal schedule of five 8-hour workdays.” And workers will get final OK of their time records.

-PAI